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Editor's Note: This story, featured at the community's Bicentennial website www.twinsburg200.com, was first published Feb. 24, 2015, in the Twinsburg Bulletin. It is being republished as part of the community's year-long Bicentennial celebration.
Twinsburg --- A popular TV show once opined that "the truth is out there."
The evidence may have been in the evening sky over the city Feb. 17, 1969.
The curious case of one local UFO sighting began innocuously enough in the city of 7,000 with TV interference at a Glenwood Drive home. It concluded, abruptly, with a bizarre visit to the Twinsburg Police Department from a United States Air Force lieutenant colonel and his mysterious, diminutive sidekick.
According to a report dated March 6, 1969, and released in 2015 from Project Blue Book, the USAF's systematic analysis of UFO reports between 1952 and 1969, a woman, 44, and her son, 19, were watching the news when the color contrast went kaput on their TV --- and then the entire signal.
It was around dusk. The mother walked outside to check the antennae, and immediately called Twinsburg police to report an "oval-shaped object that had red and white lights around it" -- what World War II pilots might have called a "foo fighter," or UFO, just two decades earlier.
"Looking up we seen [sic] the strange object, coming over Glenwood Drive," said the woman, whose identity is redacted in the report.
"I never seen anything like this before," she states. "It seemed to have stopped near the corner of [Glenwood Drive], then proceeded down [East Idlewood Drive] for about a quarter mile then it just went right up out of sight."
Sgt. Donald Prange, a former Twinsburg officer and Marine Corps veteran who served as Twinsburg police chief in the late 1970s, responded to the woman's call around 6:40 p.m. More than 20 calls referencing the UFO were ultimately fielded by Twinsburg dispatch that evening.
Prange, now 78, recalled the event with detail Jan. 27, 2015, from his home in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
"We officers talked amongst ourselves after the sighting," said Prange, who said he witnessed the object over R.B. Chamberlin High School for several minutes with Twinsburg patrolmen Walter Orcutt and Herbert Munn. "I told them I didn't think we should say anything to anyone they would think we were crazy."
As a precaution, the TPD did not immediately report the event to the USAF. The USAF was made aware of the event thanks to a Feb. 18, 1969, letter from the woman's 19-year-old son to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, detailing the sighting.
In its April 22, 1969, conclusion to the Glenwood Drive woman, the USAF determined that the object was actually an "Aerial Advertizing [sic] aircraft."
"A letter was sent to the Twinsburg Police Department requesting information on the sighting, however this office did not receive a reply the description of the UFO is similar to past reports of Aerial Advertizing aircraft," states Lt. Col. Hector Quintanilla, chief of the now defunct Aerial Phenomena Branch at Wright-Patterson.
Prange said he doesn't buy the USAF's answer in the Twinsburg incident any more than he believes its conclusion from a Portage County case three years earlier, in 1966, when officers were told they apparently had chased the planet Venus for 85 miles, from Ravenna to just outside of Pittsburgh.
"It was like nothing I've ever seen," Prange said of the Twinsburg case. "We had three cars respond, and watched it for several minutes over R.B. Chamberlin High School, near some power lines there. It appeared to be stationary, hovering. What bothered me is that it didn't seem to be making any noise, at least not that 'egg beater' sound you get from a helicopter. It was more like a whirring sound. Then it slowly rose up and disappeared."
For the woman and her son, the story ends with the April 1969 correspondence from Quintanilla.
For Prange and his fellow officers, the story of the peculiar foo fighter over Twinsburg has one final, bizarre chapter.
About a month after the sighting, Prange says his department was visited by a USAF lieutenant colonel --- believed to be Quintanilla --- and a "strange little man."
"They brought out a light colonel another strange little man was with him to question us individually," Prange said. "The smaller man, perhaps 5 feet tall, was not like us he had strange features, almost like a child who had aged rapidly.
"He wore a hat, gloves, and he never spoke to us, never shook our hands, just observed. I don't remember [the colonel] ever even saying thank you. When they left, we never heard from the air force again."
Prange said he never again experienced anything like the February 1969 incident.
"You ask me what it was? It was a flying saucer," he said.